Ben Clerkin

Schumer says out loud what Biden is thinking – and fearing about Netanyahu

The US’s most senior Jewish politician demanded that the Israeli PM quit because Democrats are worried about November


Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (2nd-L) stands with US Senate leaders including Senator Charles Schumer (TIM SLOAN/AFP via Getty Images)

March 19, 2024 15:21

Chuck Schumer said the quiet part out loud. The words that Joe Biden wants to say but, as President, can't.

It fell to the US Senate leader and country’s most senior Jewish politician to do the administration’s dirty work and call for Benjamin Netanyahu to go, in a vain bid, not to influence Israeli politics, but to cajole unhappy Democrats ahead of the November presidential election.

Schumer told the senate that his name derives from “shomer Israel — a guardian of the people of Israel”. He then went on to explain that Netanyahu was an impediment to peace and demanded new elections. In other words, the guardian of Israel wants to collapse its democratically elected government while it is fighting a war of survival.

The following day, Biden called it a “good speech” and said he was notified about its content in advance. “He [Schumer] expressed serious concerns, shared not only by him but by many Americans,” Biden said.

It is worth bearing in mind that two years ago when Biden said of Vladimir Putin “This man cannot remain in power” there was such international consternation that he was forced to clarify that he wasn’t calling for a regime change. Diplomats know that such calls from the US are used as rallying sergeants and have the opposite effect to that intent.

Schumer broke this convention to suggest that Israeli voters have had enough of Netanyahu. But, the voters Schumer is talking about are unhappy Democrats in the US.

A new Quinnipiac poll found that Donald Trump is leading Biden in must-win Michigan by 48 per cent to 45 per cent. Among 18-34-year-olds in the state which has a large Muslim population, 62 per cent have an unfavourable view of Biden. Combined with 101,000 who voted “uncommitted” in the Democratic primary, it paints a grim picture for Biden. Alarm bells are ringing at Democratic HQ.

So Schumer, just about the highest-ranking Democrat who could conceivably get away with such an attack, was pushed out onto the Senate floor to try to persuade unhappy voters that really they are all on the same side. That getting rid of Netanyahu will cure everything.

Schumer’s anger rings a bit hollow for anyone who can remember his visit to Israel last year when he posed happily with Netanyahu and discussed “the importance of the bipartisan ties between Israel and the US” and expanding the Abraham Accords.

Earlier this month the real thinking within the Democratic party was publicly aired by veteran Democratic political strategist James Carville. He said it would be Netanyahu’s fault if Biden loses the presidential election.

“There is a problem all across the country,” Carville said, with Democratic voters who will punish Biden for supporting Israel.

He said: “They’re gonna have to tell Bibi Netanyahu, ‘Hey dude, we’re not gonna lose our election because you’re scared to go to jail’.”

It fell to Schumer to deliver that message. However, soon after doing so, he realised that he had gone too far in trying to assuage the concerns of anti-Israel voters.

“The US cannot dictate the outcome of an election,” he backtracked on X/Twitter. “That Is for the Israeli public to decide. As a democracy, Israel has the right to choose its own leaders.”

That the “guardian of the people of Israel” released these words apologetically on social media rather than making them the thrust of his speech shows the painful contortions Democrats are prepared to pull and how very worried they are about losing the November election.


Someone far from afraid to speak out on behalf of Israel is Alex Karp, CEO of data analysis and software firm Palantir. He revealed that staff have quit over the firm’s support for Israel.

“We’ve lost employees. I’m sure we’ll lose employees,” Karp said in a CNBC interview. “If you have a position that does not cost you ever to lose an employee, it’s not a position.

“From my perspective, it’s not just about Israel. It’s like, ‘Do you believe in the West? Do you believe the West has created a superior way of living?’”

Palantir works with Israeli intelligence. In January it announced a strategic partnership with the Israeli Ministry of Defence.

“I think so few people speak out because they believe they can skirt by with no opinion but there is no one who doesn’t have an opinion on Israel, especially if you are a big company,” Karp said.

“There are a lot of people in the industry who are maybe not as pro-Israel as I am but they think of Israel as a very special place and are generally more understanding of the Israeli position and view Israel’s accomplishments of building a nation from a desert.”


March 19, 2024 15:21

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